An Apple a Day Keeps the Vet Away

Ok, so maybe a whole apple a day is a bit much for you pet, but there are a few easy ways to avoid extra trips to the vet, and avoid additional costs. We all know, vets and technicians included, the dismay that goes with an unexpected, or even avoidable, vet bill. Thankfully as pet advocates and fellow pet owners we are well versed in the ways to save money and keep your pet healthy!

1.    An obese pet is an expensive pet.

No one can deny that a chubby cat is down right precious. Unfortunately, those extra pounds amount to extra dollars out of yourpocket. Obese pets are more prone to heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, kidney disease, several forms of cancer and other health issues. All of these health issues lead to higher cost and more frequent vet visits.

Don’t worry you are not alone as 55% of the pets in America are considered overweight. The New York Times a few years ago had an article about the cost of overweight pets, sighting that an obese pet could cost an extra $900 to $2000.

Thankfully, this is a completely avoidable issue! As cute as it is for your pug to waddle, even one pound extra can lead to problems. In the search box on our blog, type in “weight” or “exercise” to see several posts with tips and tricks to keep your pet at a healthy weight and your piggy bank a little fuller this year.

 

2.    Preventative medications really do lower the amount of major incidents

This is really where the apple a day approach works. Keeping your pet up to date on their preventative care will help keep them from getting sick. Over the years, the quality of vaccines has increased dramatically, meaning your pet is less likely to get a vaccine that will not protect them. As many pet diseases and illnesses can be easily transferred from parasite to pet, pet to pet, or pet to human, and have high rates of fatal illness, the benefits of vaccines are worth the time and money.

For pets that have reactions to vaccines, our hospital will ask that your pet only receive one vaccine per visit. To help save you money, we only charge for the initial visit and the cost of the vaccines. You won’t be charged for multiple visits! We would rather your pet be safe, than give multiple vaccines in a visit and have you back in with a sick pet.

 

3.    Talk about your situation and what you can or can’t afford

No one likes to discuss money. Even doctors and technicians hate to bring up the cost of services as they have been on both sides of the exam room table. That being said, the more open the dialogue about the cost of services and what you can afford as a client, the better care your pet can receive.

After our doctor has made his or her recommendations, our technician will review the treatments and cost, and then depending on your choices will move forward. If you are unable to afford the services at this time, let the technician know. There may be alternative treatments, options for other medications, or it may be possible to delay some aspects of the treatment.  We want to be sure your pet receives the best care possible, and that it is at a price you can afford.

 

If you think your pet might be over weight or you are unsure if your pet is up to date on their preventative care (flea/tick medications, vaccines, wellness exams, etc.) give us a call! We can always check your pet’s medical record and see if anything is needed.

The Longest Blog We Will Ever Write…

After reading this blog, you may need a nap so grab your dog, a cup of coffee and get ready to learn more than you ever thought possible about pet health insurance. Although not for everyone, for those out there who look at their pet as their best friend and child wrapped into one wonderfully fluffy, four-legged being, pet insurance may be a reasonable option.

If you are considering insuring your pet, start early and take time to evaluate your options. Below we offer our un-biased guide to pet health insurance basics. For the sake of this blog not being a novel, we kept it simple –more research is strongly encouraged if you are considering pet insurance!

What to consider when thinking about pet insurance:

Pet Insurance is very different than human insurance

On the up side, pet insurance doesn’t have a “network” like human insurance. You can see any non-specialized veterinarian you would like, whenever you would like.

On the down side, coverage can be very different than human coverage, and you generally have to pay everything up front and then be reimbursed.

 

Pre-Existing conditions

Every pet insurance company handles pre-existing conditions differently. If you think your pet may have a pre-existing condition, check with the company to see how they handle the condition.  The worst thing we see is a client who thinks a condition is covered, pay hundreds of dollars, and then finds out they won’t be reimbursed.

 

Catastrophic vs. routine visits

Some insurance plans only cover emergency or “catastrophic” events. The purpose being to help with unexpected, high-cost, pet bills.

 

The Perfect plan

Sadly, there is no “perfect” pet insurance plan. In fact, there are dozens of options. Every time we think we know most of the options and plans, something new comes out. As the pet insurance industry is beginning to grow (supposedly set to hit over $600 million as an industry this year) we will continue to see more and more options.

 

When to Start

Much of what we read regarding pet insurance plans says they are best to start when the pet is young and healthy. This will avoid regretful catastrophic event bills, having to deal with pre-existing conditions, or other unforeseen surprises. Some companies do offer older pet plans, so you are not out of luck if your fur-baby isn’t really a baby any longer.

It is also important to know when the plan ends. Some plans last the pet’s lifetime, while others are for only a year. The timeline is not always obvious either, so if you can’t tell be sure to ask before signing up!

 

Other options

If you aren’t sure pet insurance is right for you, or are not keen on the reimbursement system, but you want help with affording pet care, Wellness Plans are an affordable alternative. Instead of reimbursement they generally are a package of preventative services offered at a discounted rate.

 

Great websites and resources to check out for more information:

It can be exceptionally hard to find information regarding pet insurance that isn’t from the perspective of a specific insurance company. For an un-biased guide, the following two sources were very helpful for us!

MoneyAdviceService: Although a U.K.-based site, they have a great breakdown of terms and FAQ related to pet insurance.

Digital book Pet Insurance Buyer’s Guide by Michael J. Considine (available at www.amazon.com for 99 cents)

 

We also highly recommend doing your research before signing up for a plan! Check out several pet insurance companies and what they offer. We have brochures for pet insurance in our lobby, just ask a receptionist and they can provide them for you.

Do Your Ears Hang Low

In addition to being known for their amazing ears, Bassett Hounds are some of the most loving pups out there!

Although human ears all looks pretty similar, dog ears have a wide range of shapes and sizes. From button ears on a French Bulldog to big droopy ears on a Basset Hound, every dog’s ears play a special role in their daily lives.

Special Qualities and Characteristics

Every breed of dog has a unique set of ears. For instance, a Bassett Hound’s long droopy ears are used to aid in hunting. You might have noticed when looking at hounds that their ears will just graze the ground. This is to help stir up scents from the ground as they are tracking other animals.

A dog’s ears also help them to hear far beyond the abilities we have as humans. They can actually hear up to four times farther away, and can pinpoint exact locations at speeds much faster than any human. Don’t worry cat lovers; your impressive four-legged friends can hear pitches far out of the range of dogs, who already hear well out of the range of humans, giving cats ample bragging rights as well.

As if that isn’t enough to make you envious of your pooch, your dog’s ears also tell you a lot about their mood, and their ears are often used to communicate. They can tell you and other animals if your dog is feeling engaged (slightly forward), happy and friendly (slightly pulled back), timid (flat or close to flat against the head), or neutral (in their normal upright position). A dog’s ears can also move independently of each other –watch out Dopey you are the only dwarf-size creature with wiggling ears!

Check out this great Youtube video of a Basenji wiggling her ears!

Special Care

These fascinating body parts do require a bit of care. Although each breed will require a different amount of care, knowing the signs of a problem can help keep your pet healthy and pain free.

Signs of an ear issue:

-Rubbing their ears on you, the floor, or anything else repeatedly

-Scratching at their ears for extended periods of time or repeatedly

-Avoiding human contact to their ears

-Foul odor or discharge from the ears

-Shaking their head repeatedly

-Redness or swelling inside the ear

 

If you notice any of the above symptoms occurring, your pooch (or cat for that matter) may have an ear infection or other ear-related issue, requiring a visit to the doctor. As a dog’s ears have an exceptionally deep ear canal they can be difficult to see into and are extremely sensitive, it is not recommended to try at home remedies or diagnosis. Even veterinarians require the aid of an otoscope to see all the way down and past the 45-degree angle (yes, that’s right, your pet’s ear canals take a sharp turn at the end!) of your dog’s ears.

Thankfully, although an ear issue can be very painful and annoying to your pet, the treatments for ear infections are generally simple and easy to administer. Not to mention the thanks you will get from your pet as their earache relief sets in!